Cottage industry fear for Western Australian wool sector

Sheep Central, May 22, 2024

Concerns are held for the future of the WA wool industry.

WOOL-GROWING could become a cottage industry in Western Australia with declining services if production dropped because of the live sheep trade phaseout, according to sector leaders.

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said the drop in wool production in Western Australia that will follow from the Federal Government’s decision to phaseout live sheep exports by sea by 2028 will compound already falling volumes due to adverse seasonal conditions.

This will put more pressure on the WA wool industry, which is in jeopardy of becoming a cottage industry, she said.

The last wool production forecast in April forecasted WA’s production for 2023-24 to fall 8.3pc and test volumes from July 2023 to March 2024 were down 5.5pc in WA. More than 300,000 sheep were trucked to the eastern states in the first three months of this year, the second highest number sent across the Nullarbor Plain in a first quarter on record.

Ms Hall said the live sheep export trade provides a vital market for many Western Australian sheep producers. She said live sheep exports is a legitimate trade that has been shut down on a whim of a government that has “not taken technical, trade or scientific advice into consideration and who merely chased a populist vote.”

Natiional Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia president Rowan Woods said a strong wool industry is underpinned by a healthy sheep population.

“If farmers are forced to cull their flocks due to the live export ban, it will inevitably impact the size of their wool clip and potentially lead to job losses across the sector.”

He said it should also be noted that a reduction in wool production in WA will have negative impacts on the Western Wool Selling Centre and the Western Australian AWTA facility, with some industry people suggesting that the live sheep ban and subsequent reduction in sheep numbers may see consideration of the viability of the selling centre.

AWTA managing director Michael jackson told Sheep Central that any decline in sheep numbers in Western Australia will have a negative impact on the efficiency of the laboratory.”

Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Josh Lamb said the Federal Government’s decision will devastate the WA sheep and wool industry.

“But what Canberra don’t understand is the ripple effect is felt nationally across the entire industry.

“The national wool industry will suffer long term damage to international trade, employment and rural communities as a consequence,” he said.

WoolProducers Australia, the NCWSBA and ACWEP have united to strongly condemn the government’s announcement to ban live sheep exports on 1 May, 2028.

In a joint statement the peak industry bodies said while the government claims that the decision to ban live sheep exports was an election commitment that Labor had taken to the last two elections, clearly during that time they have not considered the unintended consequences and potentially devastating impacts of this decision will threaten the viability of both the sheep meat and wool sectors.

“The industry is urging the government to properly consider and acknowledge the flow-on effects of the live sheep export ban to the Australian wool industry.

“The industry is seeking a guarantee from the government on the long-term sustainability of Australia’s vital wool industry and the regional communities that rely on it, given they are now both in jeopardy on the back of this decision,” the wool bodies’ statement said.

“he Australian wool industry will not give up fighting for the long-term viability of the industry and its people.”


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  1. Leanne D Currans, May 22, 2024

    Farmers need to stand up against greenies and city people who have no idea about life on the land.

    • Michelle King, May 23, 2024

      Greenies and city people have the right to call out barbaric practices, just because you work on the land doesn’t give you the right to allow this disgraceful situation. It’s been going on for years and you’ve done nothing about it. And yes, I eat meat, but I want the industry to function humanely. A society is judged by how it treats its vulnerable.

      • Chris Wyhoon, May 26, 2024

        Barbaric practices? Death rate of less than 0.2 percent. You eat chicken? Death rate 4pc. Free range eggs? Death rate from cannabilism 7pc. You eat Sheep meat? Paddock death rate depending on year 1-5pc. You eat pork? 2.5pc. What about grain fed beef? 1.1pc feedlot death. Bet on horses Melbourne Cup Day? Wastage of 12pc. What about drinking milk? Most large dairies euthanise their male bobby calves. When you can deal with facts, and not make limp claims about our industry not improving welfare to the best export standard in the world, then we’ll take note.

      • Simon Thomas, May 23, 2024

        It’s so easy for you armchair critics made up of five-minute experts who seem to think they know the ins and outs of our industry. Sadly, your comments prove that you have absolutely no understanding nor care to even learn the hard facts and truths of what is really goes on. If you want to be able to keep eating meat, then I suggest that you actually go outside the city limits and find out for yourself what really goes on in the real-world regarding agriculture.

        • Michelle King, May 26, 2024

          Enlighten me Simon, what is it I can learn about agriculture that will convince me this is not an inhumane practice? Because some other countries have a worse record for animal welfare? Is that a standard to be proud of?

          • Glenn Nix, May 28, 2024

            You could learn that 550,000 sheep have been trucked east since January; live trucking across the continent. You must be pro that if you’re against live export. One question: is meat murder? If you answer ‘yes’ you’re just wasting our time. You can learn about the markets, who is buying and processing what and why people are struggling to sell sheep, then are shooting them. Shooting is not always humane, but you must be pro that. You can learn something about the climate drivers to the WA sheep turn-offs. We don’t live in a 1200mm rainfall zone with perennial pastures — 300-500mm if we’re lucky and annual pastures that necessitate off loading stock in a hurry if spring fails. I am sure if you visited a meatworks you would not enjoy the humane paradise some think it is. If you haven’t killed and dressed your own stock you might find smells off putting. It’s not like the meat lane at Coles.

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